I’m not sure if this is really, out of the goodness of their hearts or if the Auctiva insurance department was getting sick of claims on poorly packaged items, but Auctiva posted some tips on their site for better packaging. I agree with many of them, others a little less. I have gotten some packages from eBay sellers myself lately that looked like they were packaged by a monkey so I think it bears repeating no matter how long you have been in this business.

My comments are going to be in amongst theirs.

How to Ship Your Items so They Will Arrive Safely and Undamaged

Use correct box sizes! The biggest reason for damage is the box is either too small or too big for the product being shipped. Make sure merchandise is NOT crammed in the box or it has space to move from side to side.

I can’t argue with this. I always make sure to give anything I mail out a good shake before I ship it out. A movable package is a breakable package.

Never ship items unwrapped. Bubble wrap is the best product to use, but stuffing the box with shredded newspaper, plastic or paper bags can be just as effective. Also to minimize product movement in the box during transit, you may wrap the article in aluminum foil of or a paper bag.

Eh. I don’t know about this. If you are mailing a plush doll, clothing or other really soft item, bubble wrap is overkill. But it’s just good business to make sure you wrap it in something, especially if you reuse boxes. Even if your box is brand new, I am not sure I want my new purchase touching it. Tissue paper is a good, cheap wrapper for items that are unbreakable.

The one thing I would have to add to this, though, is ALWAYS put some plastic around your item. Packages get left out in the rain and water can destroy just about anything. Boxes can rip and parts can fall out. Keeping everything bundled up in a plastic pan or plastic wrap can save a lot of aggravation later.

Good Packaging Rule #1

Shake the box when ready to be shipped. If you can hear the merchandise move from side to side, RE-PACK IT. When packaged correctly, 97% of all packages arrive safely when using USPS, FED-EX, UPS and DHL.

Try to use new boxes for shipping. IF YOU NEED to use pre-used boxes, make
sure you inspect boxes for sturdiness. Cardboard effectiveness is significantly
reduced after the first use. If you have to use a pre-used box, make sure there
are no holes in the box and all corners are intact.

Priority Mail from USPS and the faster methods of shipping from UPS, Fed-Ex and DHL entitle you to free boxes, though any other method will require that you purchase your own boxes. This can be hard for sellers who want to be “green” or just save money. If you do want to reuse boxes, which is often your best bet when dealing with an unusually shaped item, just make sure that the box is not only sturdy but also clean. I don’t mind getting a reused box but I do mind when there is cat hair or dust at the bottom.

As a general rule, collectibles and antique buyers usually expect a reused box but anyone buying a new item will expect a new, clean box.

If you are worried about the impression using reused boxes leaves, make sure to include a note with your package and on your listings that you use reused materials to help the environment. Even if you couldn’t care less about the envinronment and are just doing it to cut costs, it turns what some people might consider a negative into a positive and may even make green folks more likely to buy from you.

Good Packaging Rule #2

Tape all corners of the box for additional support. Free small boxes are available at any Kinko’s, Fed-ex/UPS/DHL service centers and drop off locations. Stop in at Costco, where you can find all sorts of pre –used box sizes free of charge. You can also purchase discounted boxes at Target, K-mart, or Wal-mart.

It doesn’t matter whose name is on the box; it can be used to ship. The USPS will deliver Fed-Ex boxes as long as the correct postage is used. UPS will deliver a DHL box as long as you use the correct UPS waybill.

I cannot get behind this one at all, Auctiva. Don’t tell people to use UPS boxes to ship via USPS etc. All that does it make UPS prices go up in the long run and make UPS more likely to discontinue the free boxes. I know people abuse this already but, please, be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Use UPS boxes only to ship UPS, FedEx only to ship FedEx etc.

NEVER use USPS/ FED-EX/ UPS/ DHL letter Envelopes or overnight packs to ship anything other than paper.

I have to disagree here as well. I think that Auctiva’s beef is that people put items in the flat rate envelopes with nothing else. That is dumb. But if you wrap flat but fraglle items in bubble wrap, foam wrap or other wrapping before putting it in the flat rate envelope, as long as you protected it well, it will be just fine in the envelope.

OK, what are we forgetting between Auctiva and myself. Add your shipping tips from your selling days below.